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My first match reader recollections IX

And still they come:

Alan Watt:

May 21st 1969 Newcastle 2 Glasgow Rangers 0

My uncle used to go to pretty much every home game. I'd been mithering him for ages to take me but me Mam said I couldn't go. So I was 11 before he was allowed to take me - it was a Wednesday night and it was a cup game so there'd be no trouble (haha!).

Uncle Jim always liked a pint - which might have been another reason me Mam didn't want me going with him - so he parked me outside the Farmer's Rest in the Haymarket with a programme & a bottle of pop. This was to become a ritual over the next few years before I started going with me mates.

(I told me Mam a couple of years ago about it & she said: "I'd never have let you go if i knew he was doing that", to which I replied, "And why do you think I never told you?")

Anyway, we were stood on The Popular Side, packed in but not as packed in as other areas like my beloved Leazes End. As the Rangers fans were packed into The Gallowgate and baiting the Leazes End my uncle was saying that we needed to be careful as they'd probably end up all going round from the Gallowgate to the Leazes to fight. But, as it turned out, they didn't do anything of the sort.

I remember it being a fairly even first half with neither side having many chances. Then in the second half Jim Scott scoring one at the Leazes End before Jackie Sinclair finished them off with a belting volley.

The Rangers fans seemed to decide then that they needed to stop the game - get it abandoned - so they poured onto the pitch. The police were overwhelmed but managed to recover and ended up standing on the cinder track at the Gallowgate to keep the pitch clear. The teams went off the pitch for about 15 minutes before they came back on to finish the game.

Never having been to a game before I just assumed this was what always happened at football matches. We had to wait until "that match" against Notts Forest before anything like it happened again.

Gordon Robson:

March 12th 1969 Newcastle 5 Vitoria Setubal 1

I come from Bishop Auckland which was pretty much mackem territory. In September 1968 I started secondary school with no interest in football whatsoever and, wanting to conform, wrote Sunderland in big red letters on my haversack.

My family had lived in Newcastle in the 30’s when my Granda worked down the pit there and they were all Newcastle supporters.

At some point my uncle must have decided to correct the error of my ways and crammed me into his Transit milk delivery van with assorted other urchins and we rolled around in the back all the way to Newcastle. Seatbelts? Seats!?

I don’t remember anything much about the match itself. I do remember being surprised it was in colour. I wasn’t a particularly stupid child. I at least kept my mouth shut about it.

I also remember looking up at the floodlights and being amazed at how much snow was coming down. We won 5-1 of course and because I was sure that was the usual score at Newcastle, instantly changed allegiance.

One small problem - I’m now a Newcastle supporter carrying a haversack with Sunderland written on it in big red letters.

I now live in Kent and have recently returned from a drive to Newcastle with an unused Sheffield United ticket in my pocket. Maybe I spoke too soon about the stupidity.

Jack McLane:

October 14th 1995 QPR 2 Newcastle 3

As an exiled Mag from an early age, away games were my introduction to following United and I was lucky to watch a very special side for my debut.

I was in full kit with Ferdinand 9 on the back, which at the time I think went right around my shirt as a small 6 year old.

My Dad tells me we bumped into Darren Peacocks' Mam on the train and I apparently made everyone very aware of this. On the game I vividly remember Sir Les scoring for us and Danny Dichio for QPR.

I also recall being in awe at Ginola and him doing that brilliant drag back that had made Neil Cox look like a pillock a few weeks earlier.

A 3-2 win and us being top of the league wasn’t a bad way to start. Sadly, it set high expectations. In 25 years of going home & away since we’ve never got anywhere near that side, but we’ve had some fun along the way both at home and in Europe along the way.

I was hooked straight away from that day and that love hasn’t gone away, even if at times I wish I didn’t care as much. It's in me for life. Roll on walking back in SJP when this is all over.

Grahame Keating:

December 28th 1996 Newcastle 7 Spurs 1

Christmas 1996 and I was living near London, but still managing to go to games home and away. My son, then 9, came home from school before the Christmas holidays and announced he liked Ryan Giggs, all his classmates were Man. U fans and he was going to support Man. U.

My response was "no, you’re not”.

We’d just beaten them 5-0, Shearer and Ferdinand were in their pomp and we were destined for the Champions League - it was obviously time for his first game.

I secured two tickets in the Leazes End against Spurs and the outcome couldn’t have been better: Shearer 2, Ferdinand 2, Lee 2, Albert, a pitch invasion from an angry Spurs fan berating their keeper and a fantastic capacity crowd atmosphere, he was hooked.

When our euphoria returned to semi normal-levels I felt obliged as sensible Dad to turn to him and say “fantastic result son but it won’t always be like that”. To his great credit he is still a passionate fan and we have since gone to many games together.

Gary Jackaman:

October 25th 1999 Newcastle 2 Derby County 0

My Dad kindly took me to my first game. We came from Suffolk and had a brilliant day in Newcastle; getting to meet the great Sir Bobby Robson, who was kind enough to sign my programme, and asked how we were.

The game was perfect as we won 2-0 with an Eranio own goal and an Alan Shearer special.

I remember where we were in the Gallowgate End, cheering for Duncan Ferguson to come on to score the third goal as he was one of my favourite players at the time. It was magical, meeting my hero Sir Bobby and we went on to survive and stay up.

Newcastle United is a huge part of my life and I am proud to be a fan and share so many memories with fellow fans.

Keith Topping:

April 9th 1969 Newcastle 3 Sheffield Wednesday 2

Attended as a five year old with my dad and can remember just about everything about the day leading up to the game - and the rising excitement that I was going to see the Magpies in action.

There was the bus trip on the 34, up Walker Road, along the Quayside, round by the Central Station and getting off on Westgate Road and then, the walk along Stowell Street, across Gallowgate and up Strawberry Place. It seemed like a marathon then because I was only small and had little legs.

I can remember hearing the muffled tannoy noise from a distance. I can remember the smell of hot dogs and and the gnarled old fella that used to walk around the cinder track selling peanuts 'a tanner a bag!' I can remember getting into the ground on the Popular Side and sitting on the wall at the front behind an advertising board.

What I can't tell you anything about, at all, is the game itself. I have absolutely no memories of that whatsoever!

David Calboutin:

May 13th 1990 mackems 0 Newcastle 0

One of my best mates is a Sunderland fan and he and his Dad offered me a ticket for this playoff first leg tie in with the home fans in the Roker End, right next to the Newcastle supporters.

I was 13 and had been brought up watching around six games of football live on TV every year, usually two of the big six teams in the First Division playing.

I had only seen goal highlights of NUFC games up to that point and was genuinely bemused as to why Mickey Quinn wasn't in the England set-up. 10 minutes into the game I realised exactly why most of these players were in the Second Division. I was shocked by how slow everyone was.

It was a truly awful game, played in windy conditions, I couldn't recall a single effort on goal by either side until the penalty at the end (Budgie saved it). I then left the ground having abuse hurled at me by cheering celebrating Newcastle fans. I thought that was surreal until these recent days......

John Clarke:

January 13th 1968 Newcastle 0 Nottingham Forest 0

An early birthday present from my Dad two days before my 8th birthday. We went in the old main stand centre paddock right at the front just to the side of the home dugout.

My overwhelming memory was about 10 minutes into the game, Joe Harvey jumped out of the dugout and screamed at John McNamee “JOHN JOHN NUMBER 8 NUMBER 8”, while pointing at the red shirted Forest number 8 and hitting his outstretched left palm with his right fist.

Sure enough within a couple of minutes big John took out number 8 with a crunching tackle. Joe was very much a “See how fast they can limp” style of manager! I was hooked for life from that day.

Lewis Fairfax:

October 15th 1997 Newcastle 2 Hull City 0

Having been just too young to remember the Entertainers (some luck), my first memories of the Toon are the Dalglish Era, which makes it all the more baffling that I continue to go to games nearly a quarter of a century later.

This first outing for five-year-old me was with my mam and dad and 35,000 other people - we were sat in the East Stand, right down near the pitch. It was a foul night and the water was pouring off the roof onto a sodden pitch.

We had the delight of watching Dad's Army - a team featuring Ian Rush and John Barnes (combined age: 70) - in front of the defence that Keegan had built, Ginola and Ferdinand having been shipped out by Kenny. We were firmly on our downwards slide towards Gullit dropping Shearer.

I don't remember much of the game - we won 2-0 with goals from Rush and Des Hamilton in what a brief YouTube video makes out to be a dull affair - but as we left the ground, sitting on my dad's shoulders as the crowd swirled around beneath me, shouting and smoking and grumbling - I knew it wouldn't be the last time.

I still go to games with my dad, whose fault it is that I still go to games!

Andrew Dunn:

October 16th 1971 Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 2

We were in town on a Saturday and my dad was shopping with my mam. We made our excuses, mam went to see her mother in West Jesmond and we walked up to the ground.

Dad bought two tickets for the old West Stand and in we went. We were expected to win easily. Palace weren't meant to be very good and they were southern foppy types. I remember they had a long blonde haired winger called Alan Whittle and their strip was white with claret and blue facings.

Whittle ran the show and we lost 2-1. Keith Dyson scored for us.

PS: The actual debut was a year earlier for a home reserve game that ended Newcastle Reserves 3 Blackpool Reserves 1.

One of the great things about having an elder brother is that sometimes he'd says things like, 'The reserves are at home today, I'll take you'.

So, aged 6, I was taken to St James' Park for the first time by my elder brother Alan. He must have been 15 at the time and was a veteran of the Rangers Fairs Cup Semi Final riot so I was considered to be in safe hands.

For Christmas he had hand painted me a Newcastle United Subbuteo team. He used to win the Fenwicks make and paint an Airfix model competition so he actually did things like that for fun!

We stood on the Leazes End for the first half, or rather he stood whilst I sat on a barrier and then at half time we and all the other lads who had been at the end Newcastle were attacking walked through the old Leazes Terrace where the East Stand is now and stood on the Gallowgate End for the second half.

I remember it was sunny, Alan Foggon was playing and he scored a hat trick. That was it, I was hooked. 50 years of suffering started that day.  I'm still hooked. I drive from North Yorkshire for every home game. I make my kids come with me. It hardens them......

Brian Sherrington:

September 1st 1973 Newcastle 1 Arsenal 1

As a football mad 7 year old, my late Dad, a life-long Black and White and veteran of the three 1950s FA Cup finals whilst he lived and worked on the South Coast, decided it was time for me sample the delights (!) of Newcastle United and St James Park.

Over the years I started to believe that this may have, in part, been due to the fact that the "other mob" were now FA Cup holders and my Brother may have convinced him to take me in case I had my head turned!

As for the game, I remember standing in the A Paddock on the West Stand side but, for years, was sure Pat Howard scored our goal (it was Terry McDermott). I don't remember much else apart from the peanut bloke throwing bags of nuts up the terraces and fans passing payment back down.

That was the start and although I stopped going a while ago (post Sir Bobby and Ashley), preferring the Northern League with my own Son, who's mad keen, I'm still a confirmed Mag.

Chris Harrison:

January 2nd 1984 Newcastle 1 Barnsley 0

Born and lived in East Yorkshire, until I was 23 and always a Hull City fan. Tigers season ticket holder as a 15 year old until 18. Then football died for me.

Music, gigs and girls became way more important and I  didn't go to the match anymore, stopped watching Match of the Dayand didn't even bother with the FA Cup final, which was always my favourite day of the year - no matter what teams were playing.

I moved to Newcastle in 1983 and still had no interest in football, although it was impossible to avoid it here. I worked in Eldon square (Virgin records) in the days when they would lock the doors before the ore the match finished to avoid any bother in the centre.

Fast forward to the day I committed the football fans cardinal sin. My pal Chris called and asked what I was up to. I think my plan was stay in and watch the TV (4 channels in those days)!

"Fancy going to the match"? Er.... Nah! I really did not want to go. It was cold, it was raining and they were playing Barnsley for gawds sake. Of course he talked me into it.

I think it was £6 to get in and stood on the Gallowgate pretty much where my first seat would be after the rebuild. It was cold, wet and miserable as I remember and the Toon won 1-0 (Chris Waddle).

That was it though. I was hooked. I remembered why I used to love football. The buzz of walking up, entering the ground, seeing the pitch and the crowds - amazing.

I became a season ticket holder in 1989 when I changed jobs and didn't work Saturdays, but I gave that up in 2011. I've only been to one game since (Perez 3-0 Southampton) and won't go back, until at least Ashley has gone.

Oh, and the cardinal sin? Obviously changing teams, should never be done, but I had a good excuse I think.


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Page last updated 26 March, 2020